People with special educational needs or disabilities (SEN/D) face a range of challenges in accessing vocations based on STEM skills. Isolation during the pandemic has worsened the situation for these learners, who were already disconnected from mainstream education and training. Nationally, only 6% of those with a learning disability or autism find employment, however there are labour shortages in occupations that require STEM skills, such as engineering and web development. New approaches are needed to open up these opportunities.
Kakou CIC will develop a digital platform with learning resources, including 3D simulations of practical work environments and personalised learner support. It will provide vocational training for SEN/D students by teaching engineering skills based on technical roles within the creative arts sector. This will break down the typical barriers presented to SEN/D learners in traditional learning settings, by allowing them to express themselves through video, music, art, spoken word, design, coding, or creative writing. Learners will be presented with realistic technical projects, designed in collaboration with Chesterfield College, cultural organisations, industry sector professionals, vocational educators and local businesses. The project will be developed as a progressive web app (PWA) so that it will work effectively on a range of devices and can be updated easily as the project evolves. As well as teaching STEM skills, the project will help the development of learner confidence and autonomy, and support learners in engaging with creative and expressive activities.